Britain’s Labour Party Deputy Leader Harriet Harman has made no secret of her distaste for Rupert Murdoch’s long reach in the UK media sector. On Wednesday – the eve of a highly-anticipated speech by Elisabeth Murdoch at the Edinburgh TV Festival – the politician, who’s also the Shadow Culture, Media and Sport Secretary, renewed calls for more stringent limits on the Murdochs’ power. She made an “open offer” to the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties to engage in talks on tightening media ownership rules. Harman said it was time “to deal with the issue of the invincibility of the Murdoch media empire,” according UK press reports. News Corp owns about 37% of the UK press and Harman is looking to crack the monopoly. During the lengthy Leveson Inquiry into UK media ethics this year, there were rumblings by witnesses that News Corp should be forced to unload one of its titles. As she traveled to the Scottish capital last night, Harman notably urged First Minister Alex Salmond, who’s considered a Murdoch ally, to accept that the “age of deference to the Murdochs” is over and to join cross-party talks on press regulation.
Harman’s comments come as Rupert Murdoch’s daughter Elisabeth is preparing to deliver the MacTaggart Lecture in Edinburgh this evening. Her brother James Murdoch famously delivered his own MacTaggart address in 2009, launching a scathing attack on the state-backed BBC and calling for the “radical reorientation” of regulation in the UK broadcasting sector. (Read that speech here.) Although she is a media mogul in her own right via her successful Shine Group, Elisabeth Murdoch’s speech tonight will meet with great scrutiny for any clues it provides about News Corp’s future. (Harman noted yesterday “It shows the influence of one family that two members within three years get to deliver this lecture.”) After News Corp acquired Shine last year, Elisabeth reversed plans to join the News Corp board in August just after the phone-hacking scandal blew wide open in Britain. At the time, a statement said she “felt it would be inappropriate” to take a seat.
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